At the Dental Trade Alliance Meeting last month I listened to Ram Charan, highly-sought after consultant to Fortune 500 CEOs and author of several best-sellers, talk about converting ideas into innovation. In every company I've ever worked or with which I've been associated, we have never lacked for great ideas. However, we have always been slower than we wanted at turning those ideas into tangible and value-added innovation. Ram addresses this problem, which seems to be present in most companies, with a story about Steve Jobs...I'll attempt to paraphrase it.
One of the times Steve Jobs returned to leadership at Apple he was presented with 26 "great ideas" for new products. The existing team was excited about all of them, but Jobs insisted the company only take on 4 of them, leaving the other 22 to languish with neglect. When questioned on his logic for leaving so many great ideas behind, he explained that he didn't have 26 people who could execute on everything it took to turn the ideas into meaningful innovations, products and services that could add value to the world.
The next time you find yourself pontificating on all of your and your company's great ideas, stop and ask yourself who in your organization has the leadership, vision, and execution skills to actually make those ideas a reality. Instead of focusing on trying to develop ideas with little hope of being anything, it's probably better to focus on hiring, training, and empowering a generation of leaders who possess the resilience, creativity, and guts to get things done.